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  1. 1. Spring 11Eating AnimalsBianca RicoThe analysis of the human relationship with animals. A review of the categorizationscreated by Americans of certain species of animals.
  2. 2. Bianca RicoSYG 4972Spring 2011 Introduction: As far as I am concerned, spaghetti is a genuine friend. We enjoy watchingtelevision together, we enjoy eating together, and we enjoy riding our bikes to thebeach and taking a refreshing dip, to cool our toasted bodies together. Spaghetti is afantastic companion, as I’m sure most dogs are to their owners. Most Americans havenot the faintest clue as to why they relate to their pet or other animals the way thatthey do. For most, the analysis of their own cognitive reasoning behind their animalrelationships has never been a question of which to ponder. Currently, the totalnumber of American households that have pets is approximately 153835000,according to the pet ownership and demographics source book. This number itselfsignifies the growing change in the human and animal dynamic. The study of humanand animal relationships has recently grown due to these obvious societal changes.Most research has primarily focused on animal to animal relations or on animals asemotional creatures, but the focus on human interactions and perceptions of animalshas not been widely focused on until recently.
  3. 3. Americans have changed greatly the way they relate to animals. Theirinteractions with animals have been transformed for several reasons. Today thecontexts in which Americans interact with animals differ drastically from theinteractions that occurred over 60 years ago. Americans have also found aninteresting paradox in their creation of a hierarchical system that is based on certaincharacteristics as well as the animals position to the human needs or desires. Research Question What has lead to the change in relationships towards animals within the pastcentury? Why have Americans applied different ethical reasoning behind thetreatment of particular animals?Purpose The purpose of this research is to understand the societal changes that havedirectly affected American relationships with animals. The greater understanding ofthese relationships will also help in understanding the paradox of the inequalityamongst animals that are integrated heavily as a part of human society and animalsthat are regarded simple commodities, regarding it as purposeless outside itseconomic value. This will help to understand the American psyche in terms of how ithas either become either desensitized or hyper sensitized to particular treatment ofanimals.
  4. 4. Literature Review:Stiffer, Steve. 2005. Chicken: The dangerous transformation of America’s favoritefood. Yale agrarian studies. New Haven: Yale University Press. The in depth analysis of the current transformation of chicken , not onlygenetically speaking but also how Americans perceive the animal in their dailyrelationships, grasps some of the social relationships one group of Americans havewith this overall processed animal. Chicken as an animal once had a form more thansimply dinner. Americans have always related to these animals as a source of foodbut in past centuries, realized that this food source was also a living creature. Thisbird could be purchased alive and in breathing form at the local market or wascultivated itself by Americans (Stiffler 2005, 103). Americans were aware that as asource of food, this animal must be nurtured and cared for in order to maintain theirown livelihood and survival. Currently, the chicken has transformed into simply, foodand no other form. Chicken was once the least desirable, yet most expensive meat toconsume. This animal was also, not the most emotionally intelligent creature, whichlead Americans to care for the animals well being less as the industrial revolutionbegan to change the way in which Americans and animals interacted. This research reveals the not so shocking fact that the food industry hastransformed the way Americans have categorized certain animals, in particular,animals that are raised primarily for consumption (Stiffler 2005, 87). The fact thatchicken as a commodity is at a low cost for maintenance and so easily profitablemakes it a desirable product for the poultry industry. There once was a time when
  5. 5. farmers produced simply to maintain themselves and their families. Americansperceive the relationship between themselves and chickens much differently thanpreviously because of the food industries mass productions of these animals. Thelocation of chicken “farms,” tends to be located in middle and western part of Americawhere the populations are much smaller and often of an economically struggling classof people (Stiffler 2005, 107). Most factory farms locate themselves to cities wherethe unemployment rate is high and most local citizens will work for seemingly lowerwages than the rest of the country. More often than not, most workers are illegalimmigrants seeking employment at whatever cost. The fact that these factories arelocated so far from most cities has deeply impacted the way Americans of which arelocated in larger, most populous cities relate to these animals. If they do not see theanimal, how can they relate to it? If Americans see the chicken only in its processed,nicely packaged form, how can they relate to it as a living creature? Thisdemonstrates most Americans’ relationships to animals that are popular commoditiesof consumption. Arluke, Arnold, and Clinton, Sanders. 1996. Regarding animals. Animals,culture, and society. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Different species of animals are related to, based on the context in whichAmericans interact with particular species. Regarding Animals serves to prove howdifferent relationships change the way Americans perceive different species ofanimals. This can be used to understand American relationships to animals on amacro scale. For example the unique relationship between an independent farmer and
  6. 6. a factory farmer are drastically different. The independent farmer typically practicesa form of reciprocity, the animal gives its life for the survival of Americans, and thesefarmers seem to take that into consideration when raising and slaughtering theseanimals. The independent farmer understands that he is dependant on the well beingof the animal, because without the animal, the farmer would not be able to produceany source of income or food (Arluke, Clinton 1996, page65). The factory farmerpractices a much different form of raising and slaughter. The factory farmer is not driven by independent demands of production butrather a larger scale of demands that arrive from the corporations that own thesefactories. These corporations set a strict number of quotas and demands ofproductions that must be met .This factory farmer thus relates to the animal as acommodity only. A way in which to make ends meat, and maintain their economicsurvival, with no consideration of the treatment of this animal. This heavily effects thefactory farmers’ and workers’ perceptions of the animals. They must adapt to thetreatment and rearing of the animals for the sake of their own economic survival.They quickly become desensitized by the processing system, in order to meet theircorporate demands. These two industries, represent the unique break in the perceptions of both ofthese “type” of farmers have regarding the treatment of the same species of animalsand processing systems. The Arluke and Clinton have analyzed some of the emotionsAmericans have adapted when relating to animals that have to do primarily in theeconomic survival of these Americans in their respected industries.
  7. 7. Regarding animals focuses on the wide variety of industries that gain profitfrom animals in different forms. This demonstrates how different environmentsweigh heavily on how Americans interact with animals, and therefore how theyregard their treatment. Through deep analysis of these different fields of employment,we are able to understand how some Americans conclude their categorization ofanimals in which they work with and interact with daily. Franklin, Adrian. 1999. Animals and modern cultures: sociology of human-animal relations in modernity. London: Sage. Animals in modern society are treated much differently than they were over acentury ago. This is an obvious, statement but it is primarily domesticated animals,whose treatment has been drastically transformed. Domesticated animals are relatedto in the form of kinship, they are “members of the family”. This term is used socommonly today that it is evident that most Americans do truly feel this way. Therehave always been intimate relationships between Americans and animals in the past,which ADRIAN , explores but it was not nearly the same as today’s treatment ofdomesticated animals(Adrian 131) . The form in which domesticated animals areregarded is with a socially moral and ethically humane treatment .What this means isthat most Americans believe that the abuse of these “companion” species is taboo,and socially unacceptable. Americans have become hyper sensitized to the well beingand treatment of these animals because they share an intimate relationship withthem daily. This is due to the many years of socialization in modern American society.Americans grow up learning that a dog or cats are pets. They can be found in most
  8. 8. homes and for the most part are friendly animals. Children in house holds that ownpets are often taught that a pet is a great responsibility and should be treated kindlyand with respect. Whether a person has had an interaction with a pet in their neighborhoodstrongly has to do with the contemporary perceptions on the treatment of animals inAmerican society. Adrian’s analysis of these is intimate relationships withdomesticate animals grants larger insight into the unique and ever transformingrelationship. Hoage, R. J. 1989. Perceptions of animals in American culture. Nationalzoological park symposium for the public series. Washington, D.C.: SmithsonianInstitution Press. The advancement of the industrial revolution and the crowded municipalities dueto urbanization, Americans were finding themselves interacting less and less withcertain species of animals, and confused on the treatment of other species. Americansduring the 19th and 20th centuries, Americans and their relationships and perceptions ofanimals relied solely in the form of tool. Americans relied on the certain animals fordifferent needs. Horses were used as forms of transportation, cats to kill pesky rodents,and dogs to help in the hunt for game or for protection. These animals were regarded asuseful in only these settings. Yet as Americans were largely becoming independent ofanimals needs for transportation, pest removal, and assistance in hunts, they foundthemselves confused in defining these animals’ purposes.
  9. 9. Farms were being moved farther and farther away from urban cities such as NewYork. This impacted the daily relation to animals such as cattle, pigs and basic livestock.In the event a person found themselves in close proximity to these animals, they regardedthem as pests; large purposeless nuisances rather than tools in which they werepreviously regarded. Human and animal relationships were driven almost entirely by the human needsand interests. With the advances of technology and modernization, Americans wereremoving themselves and farther and farther away from the concept of reciprocityamongst species, which included themselves. Certain species became for consumptiononly and therefore were regarded as commodities, not living breathing entities with a lifeform. As quickly as the industrial revolution began changing human interactions, it alsobegan to impact some Americans who recognized emotional intelligence among certainspecies. This lead to Americans creation of categorization based on distinction amongwhich animals can be treated less human than other animals. This example can beexplained by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All animal are equal, but some animals aremore equal than others.” Americans began to demand for all Americans to take aretrospective look inside themselves and recognize their unethical treatment ofdomesticated animals, though there were not such strong rallies against the treatment ofanimals that were considered for consumption only. Animals and modern cultures,parallels these distinct and often contradicting moral understandings. It is relevant inunderstanding how Americans deal with the moral and emotional obstacles they findthemselves in when dealing with animals that pertain to mass profitability.
  10. 10. Haraway, Donna Jeanne. 2008. When species meet. Post humanities; 3. Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press. The exploration into the modern relationships Americans have with their pets isoften just lumped into the traditional sense of, another family member. Yet it isHaraway’s deep analysis into this relationship that explains the cause of these mostunique and intimate relationships. Most middle class households have one pet orcompanion species in their home. The increase in the pet products industry has boomedand because of this increased growth is has become evident that pets are far morecommon than most might like to believe. Pets or companions species as Haraway refersto them have a place in most households as necessary. They can often show that you havereached adulthood if you own a house, a car, have two children and oh, yes good oldFido, the adopted terrier mix. One has to question why this dynamic and desire that isalmost a need for households to have pets, has derived from. Haraway attaches this desire, to the lack of modern companionship that mostAmericans how recently found them with. Americans have an innate desire toaccompanied and socialize. Modern lifestyle such as leaving familiar settings such asyour home and family to go to college can often feel isolating. Relocating for a workopportunity, can leave many Americans without the socialization that is a naturalcharacteristic of our species. Replacing that human companionship, with an animalcompanion often fills the lonely void of isolation.
  11. 11. Eisnitz, Gail A. 1997. Slaughterhouse: The shocking story of greed, neglect,and inhumane treatment inside the U.S. meat industry. Amherst, NY: PrometheusBooks It has been noted that some Americans have become hyper sensitized to thetreatment of certain animals while other Americans have become desensitized. Such canbe explained by pure in depth analysis of the meat packing industry, and factory farming.These industries have both been placed under extreme scrutiny not for the ethicaltreatment of animals (until recently), but for the ethical treatment of its laborers. Oftenthey are immigrants without legal work permits who are forced to work in deplorableconditions in order to survive. Along with these laborers, there are also a majority ofpoorer class Americans, who are often left with minimal opportunities for employmentand are also forced to work in indignant atmospheres. There have been severalpsychological effects reported by employees who work in slaughter houses. Many havebecome numb to the in discreetly horrendous conditions in which the animals aremaintained and slaughtered, due to their own need for the pay that is involved in thesejobs. Hundreds of carcasses are hung, skinned, disemboweled, and processed in a matterof minutes. This is all done by minimum wage laborers, who most of the time have noother means of income. The entire processing system must be done in a matter of minutesand therefore is setup in a factory setting. Most employees are rotated through differentdepartments of the processing factory, which means all employees are exposed to eachdisturbing instance of slaughtering and processing. The workers must perform in order toreceive wages and thus most attempt to adapt and ignore the dreadful obligations they
  12. 12. must perform for their own means. How else would you explain the rapid desensitizationof the employees other than it is a means to their end?Theoretical Approach I will be using the structural-functional approach to understand how SouthFloridians have used their social structures and have adapted to the different atmospheresthat lead to their current treatment and categorization of certain animals. South Floridianswho either own or do not own a pet have found themselves having to interact withanimals daily, though they may not believe those certain encounters to be contexts inwhich to consider a legitimate interaction with animals. This would include someone atthe supermarket browsing the deli. Structural functionalism will help to determine howatmospheres and social structures impact greatly the reasoning behind Americancategorizations and treatment of different species of animals. Research Design I will be using a longitudinal research design in order to collect my data fromone specific group and also secondary analysis to understand what research has beenpreviously conducted. This can help to understand if there has been a shift over time inthe distinct relation to animals and what may be the elements that have changed that canbe focused on more specifically. Primary data will be collected in the form of surveys. I will conduct surveys toSouth Floridians, almost entirely Miami residents between the ages of 18-25. I believethis will provide the most up to date perspective Americans have towards the treatment ofanimals in various situations.
  13. 13. Methodology:I will use surveys in order to get a contemporary understanding of how Americans insouth Florida interact with animals. The interviews will be conducted on Americansranging between the ages of 18-25 that have pets and households that do not have pets.This will work to analyze comparatively distinct daily interactions with animals. I willalso analyze any previous studies that have been conducted on human perceptions ofanimals. Data found through census analysis the pet ownership and demographics sourcebook will also give great comparisons with my results from the survey.Data and Findings From my own findings I have simply proven my own theory and an obviousbelief amongst Americans. Animals that are commonly interacted with in social settingssuch as homes and petting farms are regarded as worthy of protection and moreconcerned for in their treatment and well-being.
  14. 14. There were not surprisingly the same corresponding reactions to the questions thatrelated to the treatment of pets such as questions 1 and 2 that ask first if the respondentwould allow dogs to be eaten if it were a matter of cultural custom and secondly weatherthey themselves believe that eating dogs is inhumane. Cultural customs weigh heavily onwhether the respondent would accept this behavior. The response that would allow dogsto be eaten if it were a cultural customs was 4 out of 16 or 25%, saying yes. This was notsurprising being that 12 out of the 16 respondents were pet owners and 14 out of 16 of therespondents grew up in households with pets. This much socialized relationship withthese pets has heavily affected this group’s reaction to the treatment of popularlydomesticated animals.Discussion Americans have often regarded their relationship with animals as simple andobvious. There are animals that are pets, there are animals that are food, and there areanimals that are exotic and beautiful. Yet, they have never truly delved into what has ledto their categorization of these animals. What makes the animal exotic and worthy ofprotection from the endangered species list? Why is it ok to mass produce and factoryfarm animals at the expense of the treatment of these animals? Americans have rarelytaken a moment to understand their socialized past and history with animals that hasdrastically affected their current relationship to animals in their everyday lives.Conclusion
  15. 15. Previous research has shown that the dynamic in which Americans interact withanimals has changed immensely. Americans no longer visit the local market to purchasethe recently skinned chicken or visit a farm where they can view a cow grazing openly asit had once before. It is these changes that have occurred in the food industry, theindustrialized economy, and the growing number of populations in urban cities and thedeclining population in Central United States, that have grown to impact the perceptionsof Americans on animals. Without the changes of law regarding the humane treatment of animals, childrenwould now have been socialized from a young age to treat pets as animals that arenurtured and respected.Works Cited. 1. Striffler, Steve. 2005. Chicken : The dangerous transformation of America’s favorite food. Yale agrarian studies. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2. Arluke, Arnold, and Clinton Sanders. 1996. Regarding animals. Animals, culture, and society. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 3. Franklin, Adrian. 1999. Animals and modern cultures : A sociology of human- animal relations in modernity. London: Sage.
  16. 16. 4. Hoage, R. J. 1989. Perceptions of animals in American culture. National zoological park symposium for the public series. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.5. Haraway, Donna Jeanne. 2008. When species meet. Posthumanities ; 3. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.6. Eisnitz, Gail A. 1997. Slaughterhouse : The shocking story of greed, neglect, and inhumane treatment inside the U.S. meat industry. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books